At a hookin recently Alana talked about how she comes up with some of her whimsical designs. I asked if she would share this info with all our readers so here it is:
“In the early 90’s I read a book by an art therapist named Lucia Capacchione. The book was called “The Power of Your Other Hand” (http://www.luciac.com/). I had already become acquainted with the powerful technique of drawing with your non-dominant hand from Betty Edwards’ drawing ‘bible’ in art school. Capacchione carried the non-dominant hand techniques further into every day habitual patterns; for example, brushing your teeth and putting the cutlery away. Performing these ordinary tasks with my non-dominant hand placed me in the present moment. applying these techniques to my artwork forced me into being spontaneous and primitive in my imagery. Childhood memories and dreams surfaced.
At the same time I came across another book written by two lapsed Catholics, “Saints Preserve Us”. I found the book hilarious and inspiring. I started looking at my left handed cartoon characters as fitting into the roles of some of the patron saints. The frog and fishes was St. Anthony who is recorded as going to the riverbank and preaching to the fishes who stood on their tails in the water and listened. St. Venantius (my highwire Frog) is the patron saint invoked against danger from falling; my laundry line with bird and shorts is St. Veronica, the patroness of laundresses.
I made a series of magnetic greeting cards of the patron saints that I found humourous. Though most of the stories are actually tragic since most of the saints died martyrs’ deaths, somehow making their stories ‘over-the-top’ aided me in becoming a witness. I have frequently found people who deal with the dying in their profession often have a developed sense of humour to give them momentary relief from the tragedy. I could relate to this very deeply in my own story which emerged from my very first non-dominant hand painting which will explain why many of my paintings focused on vicious dogs.
When I was three I lived with a wonderful dalmation dog named Trixie who had a litter of puppies, one of which was pure white. My first painting depicted a dog in a cocoon in the earth, looking dead, with a grouping of puppies above her, one of which was a white puppy with fangs. I remembered the name of the dog as Trixie, which I had forgotten until then. I phoned my parents and asked them about the white puppy and they told me this tragic story: they had given the white puppy to their closest friends who had recently had a child. On a cool Saskatchewan day the mother had briefly gone into her home leaving the newborn in the baby carriage at the foot of a landing. The puppy jumped into the carriage for warmth supposedly and smothered the infant. My parents put down our dog, Trixie, so as not to be a reminder. As a child all I knew of this was that my dog was now gone.
I believe that I was able to look at these memories particularly because the images came out very primitively and cartoon-like. I encourage anyone to use this technique to explore their subconscious. It is a very healing tool and also a creative one.”
Here are some more of Alana’s designs soon to be translated into hooking patterns:
4 and 20 Blackbirds
Bird and Shorts
Cat and Goldfish